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was opened for sin ” upon the cross; and therefore he cannot wash in it. He knows not of a righteousness wrought out for him; and therefore he cannot clothe himself with it. The great and precious promises which God has given us in his word, have, in his mind, but little weight, little reality. His repentances, his reformations, his alms-deeds and works of charity, these form his chief dependence, and these administer to him his principal consolation. Hence he never acquires any solid peace. He always has a secret misgiving that he has not obtained peace with God; and he has no conception of what is meant by " the joy of faith.” The true Believer “rejoices in the Lord with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” But to this the

poor blind moralist can never attain; and therefore he can never enter into “ the glorious liberty of the children of God.” In what a lamentable condition then is he!] III. No support in his troubles

[“Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” But to those who have received the Gospel, there are consolations that bear them up above all their afflictions. They know from whence all their trials spring, even from the hand of God himself. They see them to be the fruit of a Father's love, sent for the production of the most gracious ends. They feel within themselves their humbling, sanctifying efficacy. They perceive that they are instrumental to the carrying on of God's work within them, and to the augmenting of that weight of glory which shall be accorded to them at the last day. But of all this the man who is uninstructed in the Gospel is altogether ignorant. He has little except the principles of philosophy for his support. He feels that he cannot ward off affliction; and that to repine under it, is only to augment its pressure: and that, consequently, patience is his truest wisdom. But to “glory in tribulation," and be thankful for it, and “take pleasure in it," are attainments of which he has no conception. Truly “to be thus ignorant, it is not good."] IV. No strength for his duties

[An unenlightened man, of necessity, engages in duty depending only on his own strength. He knows not what union with Christ is; or what is that vital energy which is derived from him, as from a vine to its branches, or from the head to the members of a body. Nor is he acquainted with the operations of the Holy Spirit, so as to be “strengthened with all might by the Spirit in his inward man.” In consequence of this, if he go forth to mortify sin, or conflict with Satan, or engage in any spiritual duty, he fails, and is ready to consider success as utterly unattainable. Being a stranger to “the mighty working of God's power, which wrought in Christ

to raise him from the dead, and to set him above all the principalities and powers whether of heaven or hell," he conceives that similar conquests are not to be expected by mortal man; and that to rise thus superior to sin and Satan, is an object to be desired rather than attained. Hence he satisfies himself with the poor performances of outward duty; and never dreams of being a changed into the image of the Lord Jesus, from glory to glory, by the Spirit of his God.” “ Through the strength of Christ he might do all things :" but, being ignorant of Christ, he is left to his own resources,

and can do nothing." Say, Brethren, whether in this view also he does not fearfully illustrate the truth contained in my text.] V. No hope in his end-

[At the approach of death, an unenlightened man is in a truly pitiable state. He has no other hope but what is founded on the uncovenanted mercies of his God, and a persuasion that he has done his duty to the utmost of his power. As for an assurance of faith, or a spirit of adoption enabling him to cry Abba, Father, he knows not of it; nor can imagine how it is that some attain such joy in the prospect of eternity. Of the covenant of grace, and of all its blessed provisions, he, alas ! is ignorant. He cannot take hold of the promises of the Gospel, or rely on the faithfulness of God. He sees not how a title to heaven may be attained, or with what confidence it may be pleaded at the throne of grace. He sees not Christ as his forerunner, that is gone to prepare a place for him, and has engaged to come and take him to himself. Hence he clings to life even to the last; and never reckons death amongst his treasures, or accounts it gain to die. St. Paul well describes the state of such an one; that being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish his own righteousness, and not submitting himself to the righteousness of God, he perishes at last under the guilt of all his sins. Whatever his exertions be in the pursuit of righteousness, he fails, “because he seeks it by works, and not by faith only; for he stumbles at that stumblingstone b;" and thus, as God has said, “he is destroyed for lack of knowledge.” The unhappy man living all his days “without Christ,” dies at last " without hope d.' Who will doubt no the truth of Solomon's assertion, that for the soul to be without knowledge is the greatest calamity that can befall a man on this side the grave?] And now, Brethren, what shall I say unto you? O,

LEARN, 1. To pity those who are in ignorance of the truth of Christ

b Rom. ix. 30–33. and x. 2, 3. c Hos. iv. 6. d Eph. ii. 12.

now

[You would surely pity your friends and relatives, if you saw them destitute of the common faculties of men: but, believe me, they are still greater objects of pity, if, possessing all the faculties of men, they are ignorant of the Gospel. In what an awful state are they who have no directory for their ways, no remedy for their sins, no support in their troubles, no strength for their duties, and no hope in their end! Yet is this, indeed, the condition of all who are ignorant of Christ. They may be endued with human wisdom, and may be placed on the highest pinnacle of human glory; but yet a poor Lazarus, that is destitute of all that man values, is happier than they. Consider this, I pray you, and exert yourselves to the utmost of your power for the bringing of their souls to God – and pity the heathen world, who are yet sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death. Pity also God's ancient people, who have yet a veil upon their hearts, and who still reject that Saviour whom their fathers crucified. Concur in all the methods that are used for the enlightening of this benighted world: and if you see, indeed, that " for immortal souls to be without knowledge is not good," address yourselves with all energy to the dispelling of the darkness that reigns throughout the world, and to the “ turning of men universally from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God."]

2. To improve the means of grace which are afforded

you[Permit me to say, that you have the light set before you, and "the whole counsel of God faithfully declared unto you.' Do not then trifle with the opportunities which you enjoy. They are sent of God to “make you wise unto salvation;" and, if they be disregarded, they will greatly augment both your guilt and condemnation. In truth, if you had not such instructions, your guilt would be comparatively light, and your condemnation tolerable: but, with your advantages, your state will be worse than that of Sodom and Gomorrha, if you

make not a suitable improvement of them. In attending on divine ordinances, learn to regard them as Bethesda's Pool, where, unless the waters be stirred, you will attend in vain; and beg of God to accompany them with power from on high, and to give them a saving efficacy to your souls.]

3. To make a good use of the knowledge which you possess

[Be careful that you do not “hold the truth in unrightcousness.” The servant who knew his Lord's will, and did it not, was beaten with more and heavier stripes than he who erred through ignorance. And you may be sure, that if the Lord Jesus Christ will be revealed at last in flaming fire, to take vengeance on them that knew not God, and obeyed not the Gospel; much more will he take vengeance on those who have trodden under foot his blood, and done despite to his Spirit of grace. If God have shined into your hearts, to give you the light of his Gospel, you must walk as children of the light and of the day. It is in this way only that you can shew the excellency of the Gospel, or convince the world that the knowledge you possess is of any real value. But, to make this improvement of the Gospel, much consideration will be necessary. The word of Christ must be treasured

up
in

your minds, and must “dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” A mariner who will not consult his compass will derive no benefit from it:

you,

if

you do not take “ the word as a light unto your feet and a lantern to your paths." Solomon, in the words following my text, justly says, “ He that hasteth with his feet, sinneth :" I say to you;

If
you

will have your way acceptable unto God, you must apply to him constantly for fresh supplies of his grace, and must take heed unto your ways according to his word."]

nor will

and so

DCCXCIX.

THE SINFULNESS OF MURMURING AGAINST GOD. Prov. xix. 3. The foolishness of man perverteth his way, and

his heart fretteth against the Lord. THE wickedness of the heart is deep and unsearchable. They who do not watch its motions, have no idea of its depravity ; but they who diligently examine it may discover many evils, and by the light of God's word attain considerable knowledge. The disposition mentioned in the text deserves special attention. We will, I. Illustrate the disposition here spoken of

The careless and ungodly world are ever ready to cast blame on God, 1. On account of their sins

[They give the rein to every evil thought and desire; they expose themselves to every kind of temptation ; they lay innumerable stumbling-blocks in their own way; and thus become enslaved by vicious lusts and appetites: against these iniquities God denounces his judgment; but the slaves of sin continue hardened in their evil ways; they condemn even God himself as the author of their sins. This was the conduct of Adam immediately after the fall“, and is it too often imitated by his guilty descendants -] 2. On account of their sorrows

[Sorrow is entailed on all as the punishment of the first transgression : but most of the afflictions which men suffer are brought on them by their own folly. Some involve themselves in distress through sloth or intemperance; others ruin themselves by imprudence and extravagance. Others bring themselves into difficulties by the tempers which they exercise, and the habits which they form: but all under their calamities “fret against the Lord.” They are full of invectives against those that have been the more immediate occasions of their troubleb; they consider their lot as hard and severe; and thus do they reflect on Providence rather than on themselves. Cain, the first-born of Adam, indulged this malignant spirit"; nor are there any sons of sorrow who do not more or less follow his example.]

Nor are believers themselves wholly free from this disposition

[They watch and pray against their besetting sin, yet are sometimes brought under the power of it. On these occasions they are tempted to fret against the Lord; they are ready to expostulate with him like those of oldd; they forget how justly they might have been eternally forsaken; and that the remaining power of their sins is the consequence both of former habits, and of present neglects. Under afflictions also they feel too much proneness to murmur. What sinful impatience did the holy Elijah manifeste! Even Job himself preserved not wholly a becoming temper'.]

This disposition however is most hateful in the sight of God. II. Point out the evil of itIt betrays the most deplorable ignorance

[God is not, nor can be, the author of sin. He maintains in all things the character given of him: hence St. James shews the folly of casting blame on God"; nor can God punish any of us more than our iniquities deserve: hence the expostulation of the prophet is unanswerable'. Besides, to fret against God is not the way to interest him in our behalf, nor

a Gen. iii. 12. He obliquely condemns God for giving the woman to him.

b Numb, xvi. 11, 41. c Gen. iv, 13, 14. d Isai. lviii. 3. • 1 Kings xix. 4. f Job vii. 15, 16. 8 Deut. xxxii. 4. h Jam. i. 13, 14. i Lam. iii. 39.

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